I’m sitting here in my office, so happy to be home from a nearly week-long trip to south Georgia. I was on a book promotion tour visiting TV stations, radio stations and even having a book signing. Mind you, I am grateful for the flurry of interest and activity but I have to tell you, I am not much of a traveller. I used to be, but then I started paying attention. Women are at a distinct disadvantage on the road.
Of all the things that really made me feel “away from home” last week, I have to say that public restrooms ranked up there close to the top of the list. Does that sound like a strange thing to say? Allow me to explain, and I’m going to be talking mostly to women because, frankly, we get it.
First, for whatever reason, doesn’t it seem that every single time you stop for a meal or to fuel up, you simply have to use the restroom? I’m not sure what causes that phenomenon, but it’s true.
There must be a law against placing door locks on restroom stall doors. Or there must be great fun in prying the locks off, because more often than not, you can’t close and lock the door of the stall. Solution: once seated, you hold the door closed with one foot. Awkward, but do-able.
Without fail on this trip, every public restroom I used was missing the little hook thing on which you hang your purse. That’s a problem, because without the hook, you’re either holding your purse the entire time or putting it on the floor, which in my mind is not an option. Can you imagine the germs?
So here’s my solution: I hold the strap of my purse in my mouth while I go about my other business. Note: you still have to be careful not to let your purse touch anything germy; for heaven’s sake, it’s in your mouth! You also have to be careful not to leave teeth marks in the leather, all the while still holding the door closed with one foot.
Now ladies, while sitting there looking and feeling absolutely ridiculous, you reach over for some paper and – you guessed it – there is none. Great. You can’t ask a woman in another stall (if such a person exists) for some paper because your mouth is full of purse. Too, I always hear my mom’s words of wisdom – “You should have checked for paper before you sat down!”
In one restroom I visited somewhere along I-75, there was a huge roll of paper in the stall but no cap on the dispenser to hold it in place. I tore off some paper, and the whole roll came off and went flying 2 or 3 stalls over. It was a big roll, like the size of one of those round bales of hay you see in the fields in rural Georgia. I injured two women with it and had to apologize, one foot still on the door.
They rolled it back to me (more germs), and I placed the paper back where it belonged. I wondered if the women made note of my shoes (oh you know you do that, too) while I waited for them to leave the restroom first. If you note the shoes, you know who was in which stall.
Finally, after I’ve exhausted myself with the door and the purse and the paper, I had to wash my hands. No soap. No hot water. No hand sanitizer. In other words, my own personal nightmare.
Women, I think we should band together and demand better facilities out there. At the very least, let’s get the store owners to remove those shot glasses with the female silhouettes on them, usually strategically placed near the cash registers in such establishments. They’re right next to the camouflage baseball caps with Confederate flags on them.
Is it just me, or have other women had the same experiences?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how they behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays.